Plainfield looks to slow things down
By Eric Blaisdell
STAFF WRITER | July 16,2013
PLAINFIELD — Residents of Plainfield are working to reduce or eliminate speeding in the village.
The town was recently awarded $7,000 by the Central Vermont Regional Planning Commission to fund a traffic calming study. Jim Donovan, founder of Broadreach Planning and Design of Charlotte, has been hired to conduct the study.
Jodi Vilardi, a member of the steering committee working with Broadreach on the study, said the issues are on Main and Mill streets in the village. Because of the geography of the village, people coming into town from any direction are driving downhill, which can lead to speeding. That has some people worried about the safety of children playing in the area and both pedestrians and their pets.
“It’s a village,” Vilardi said. “It’s an active, vibrant village full of people that are crossing the street and living their lives. ... For the most part, it’s about people paying attention to the fact that they are coming into a village.”
One possible solution Vilardi sees is instituting a lower “advisable” speed in the village than the current speed limit of 25 mph.
“If you go 25 mph through a village and you feel like it’s too fast, the advisable speed is probably lower than that,” she said.
What the actual solutions will be, however, is up in the air while the town is still holding public work sessions in which residents meet with Donovan to brainstorm the best ways to handle the speeding problem. The first session was in June, with the next scheduled for Aug. 6. A final public work session will take place Sept. 17, and Donovan is expected to present his recommendations to the Select Board in November.
“(The report) will recommend, based on community input, the most appropriate (options) for Plainfield,” Donovan said. “As much as possible, we try not to have any option dependent on any other (option) — like you have to do A before you can do B. It gives the widest range of possibilities if all of them can be done whenever in any order.”
Select Board member Alice Merrill, who was elected to a three-year term in 2012, said speeding in the village has been an issue for decades.
Merrill said she has lived in the village for 30 years and can remember speeding being a concern when her own children were growing up. Once she joined the board, she knew it was an issue she wanted to tackle.
“It’s a small village, but it doesn’t take much to have a few speeding cars at the wrong time of day when kids are out playing and not paying attention,” she said.
Merrill said most of the speeding takes place during commuting hours in the morning and evening.
She said the study will help in addressing the speeding problem whether action is taken now or at some point in the future if an immediate fix isn’t readily apparent.
“It’s a study, so we will have this document that we can refer to and people can refer to it 10 years from now if there’s still a problem. It basically gives us some research and sort of takes the pulse of the town and people that live here, as to what they think they’d like to see, how things are and how we’ll fix it,” she said.
If any solution recommended by Broadreach is endorsed by the Select Board but is costly, Merrill said, it will be taken to the public in an article to be voted on at town meeting.
In the meantime, Merrill said she has met with road foreman Mike Nolan and some steps will be taken now to help slow down the speeders.
She said speed limit signs and pedestrian crosswalk signs will be updated, and the crosswalks will receive a fresh coat of paint so they’re more visible. Merrill said the street lights in the village are also going to be replaced with LEDs that offer better visibility than the old high-pressure sodium lights.
In the end, though, Merrill said the responsibility is ultimately with the drivers.
“We can do so much and then it’s about people complying with the law and paying attention. It’s our obligation to do what we can do,” she said.